Are your good people good enough?

By Tanya Barman

Imagine you are being pressured by a manager to allow a batch of goods to go into the market even if there are some quality concerns. This is despite the chief executive's clear statements to act with the highest integrity and standards. What would you do?


This was a scenario that was role-played at a St Paul’s Institute  and CIMA seminar during April in London, part of an ongoing St Paul’s Cathedral series exploring the City and the Common Good.

 The "Good people" seminar, which also included the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) aimed to discuss the value of good people, professionalism and culture within business, as well as the very real challenges to ethical obligations that employees face   Threats to integrity are very real and are played out daily in newspaper headlines. So how can an organisation stay true to their stated values? And indeed, can they?


Barclays has featured regularly in our newspapers for the wrong reasons recently and now their CEO is hoping to transfer integrity from statements into culture.  The final St Paul’s event will be held in June when Barclays head Anthony Jenkins and Archbishop Justin Welby will discuss “Good Banks”.   If Barclays is able to make headway in truly walking the talk, it should inspire others and that should entail, as Jenkins has suggested those unwilling to sign up should quit. 

As CIMA vice president Keith Luck said in April: "When you do exercises involving role play even if 70% take the decision that reflects integrity it is the decision of the 30% who don't that you need to consider carefully - and act on."  No surprise then that a recent PWC survey on CEOs on the talent challenge shows 57% will focus on increasing ethical behavior in their business 

The CIMA scenario was based on a situation in a top global brand, recognised for its strong values. Ultimate cost included fines in hundreds of millions of dollars as well as a major blow to both morale and reputation. Too often good people is a term that is used describe those who do what they are told.  Far better to have those who will challenge and make long term decisions. This underlines why “good people” acting for the good of the company and wider society makes sense.  Upholding your professional Code is key to this.  Do you know who may be undermining integrity?  And have you figured the risk involved – and how much that may cost you?  Time to take a look at how good your people are.

See a suite of resources on risk, skills and ethics on